Teen Drivers: Keep Them Alive

In September, a Durham high school student was killed when the car he was driving crossed the centerline on Highway 55 and struck an oncoming vehicle. The force of the crash sent both cars down an embankment. It is unknown why the 16-year-old driver, Tyreic Elyja Hemphill, crossed the median, but speed and alcohol are not considered contributing factors. The 36-year-old driver of the other vehicle suffered minor injuries.

Mr. Hemphill was a popular, college-bound senior at Jordan High School. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death of teens between 14 and 18 years of age. While Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) helps new drivers acclimate to the driving experience, the NHTSA reminds parents that safety begins at home.

Consider these points:

  • Set a good example: Your child has watched you drive for years. Do you follow the rules, obey the speed limit and drive courteously? Has your child seen you or your friends drive after having a drink? Modeling good driving habits counts.
  • Create and enforce appropriate driving rules: The NHTSA stresses the importance of five driving rules, including consistent use of seatbelts, no cell phones, no speeding, no alcohol and no extra passengers.
  • Derail distracted driving: Whether talking with passengers, texting, talking on the phone or daydreaming, distracted driving is a killer. Ensure your teen knows not to drive or ride with someone who is texting or distracted.

Navigating the high school years and young adulthood is hard enough. Help young drivers know the limits and learn good lifetime driving habits. In 2011 in the United States, more than 2,000 teen drivers died in accidents. Even one fatality caused by distraction or an unbuckled seatbelt is too many.

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